The Solent Way

Lee-on-the-Solent to Portsmouth

The Solent Way > Lee-on-the-Solent to Portsmouth

Introduction

This walk has a variety of scenery, starting from the town of Lee-on-the-Solent and following the towns promenade into Browndown, an area still used as a firing range (so this part of the walk is not accessible if it is in use). Beyond Browndown the path comes out into Stokes Bay then inland round the suburbs of Gosport crossing the Haslar Bridge to come to the promenade and ferry over to the maritime city of Portsmouth, its' skyline dominated by the Spinnaker Tower.

Getting to the Start

Lee-on-the-Solent is on the south coast to the west of Gosport and is easily accessed from the M27 motorway. Exit the motorway at junction 11 onto the A27. Continue on the A27 towards Fareham town centre at the first junction then turn left onto the A32 at the second junction. Go straight on at the next roundabout then at the junction continue straight-on onto the B3385 then continue straight on on the B3385 until you arrive at the sea front where there is a car park. Another option is to park at Fareham station and catch the frequent bus service to Lee-on-the-Solent and return from Portsmouth to Fareham by train.

If you are travelling by public transport buses run frequently from Fareham (including the railway station for trains from Southampton, Portsmouth, London, Basingstoke, Winchester, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff) to Lee-on-the-Solent. There are also frequent buses to Lee-on-the-Solent from Gosport, Stubbington and Southampton, all operated by First Provincial

The Walk

Lee-on-the-Solent is a fairly modern town with a rather ugly parade of shops along the sea-front in the town centre. The Solent Way continues on the tarmac promenade along the sea front, passing the arcade, cafe and skate park. The beach at Lee-on-the-Solent is shingle with a small amount of sand at low tide. Although now some distance from Southampton, the refinery at Fawley and the power station at Calshot are still very visible to the west, whilst the Isle of Wight is also very visible.

Lee-on-the-Solent beach
Lee-on-the-Solent Beach

Continue along the pleasant promenade past the mariner and slip way where the promenade comes to a rather abrupt end. Here you'll see the wire fence and signs that warn you that an Army firing range (known as Browndown) is ahead. If the read flag is flying you'll have to divert away from the coast and walk on the road to Stokes Bay. Assuming the path is open continue straight on, following the edge of the shoreline. The landscape here consists of mostly overgrown gravel where vegetation has taken hold on the shingle of the beach as well as a few disused buildings and some piles of gravel and shingle. There are a variety of paths you can follow, but all can be quite hard-going as all this section is walking on the lose shingle. It is nevertheless a lovely part of the path, as (apart from when the range is in use), it's quiet and fairly unspoilt and offers lovely views of the Solent and Isle of Wight.

Browndown Browndown
Browndown Browndown

Soon you reach Browndown Battery where there is some of the fort and a car park (and often an ice-cream van). At the headland you can see round to the next bay, Stokes Bay beyond.

Browndown Battery Stokes Bay beyond
Browndown Battery Stokes Bay beyond Browndown

The path then goes into Stokes Bay, again continuing along the shingle beach. This is a pretty beach, backed by trees initially, although it does join a road further round. When you get to the road there is a promenade, providing a welcome break from walking on the shingle, which can be quite heavy going. The forts of the Solent are now quite visible out to sea.

Stokes Bay Stokes Bay
Stokes Bay Yachts at Stokes Bay

Soon the path passes the sailing club and then soon the lifeboat station before you leave the buildings of Stokes Bay behind and lose the tarmac path again. The busy Solent provides plenty of interest with ferries and freight boats a frequent sight.

Looking west from Stokes Bay A large boat passes along the Solent
Looking west from Stokes Bay A large boat passes along the Solent

The path now continues along shingle at the back of the beach, a rural scene once more as the buildings of Gosport are some distance back from the path. In the distance you can see glimpses of the Spinnaker Tower the new tower on the waterfront in Portsmouth. This pleasant path continues to Gilkicker Point and Gilkicker Fort, only obvious by the radar mast on top. The Solent Way continues inland here, although there is a coastal path for another quarter of a mile or so which is worth taking, but it ends abruptly at a wire fence at Fort Monckton. The coast of Portsmouth is now visible ahead, but the path now takes a diversion in-land for a while.

View from the path near Gilkicker Point Gilkicker Point
View from the path near Gilkicker Point Gilkicker Point

Walk round the edge of the fort and take the path to the left of the lake. Take care on this part of the path as it also crosses part of the Gosport and Stokes Bay Golf Course, a challenging looking course.

The lake by Fort Gilkicker
The lake by Fort Gilkicker

After crossing the golf course this path emerges onto a residential road (Fort Road), where you turn right. Continue along the suburban streets passing a prison on your right as you come to the end of the street. Ignore the side roads to the right to the fort and the prison. On the corner by the prison continue into Clayhill Road then turn right down Haslar Road. Here the path has military buildings to the left and for part of the time to the right before you come to Royal Hospital Haslar, a large hospital. This part of the walk has little in the way of views since both sides of the road have high walls preventing any views. It's therefore a welcome relief to come to the submarine museum on the right since it marks the end of the walls and you come to the Haslar Bridge ahead, a narrow bridge offering lovely views of the mariner and lake.

Haslar Mariner from Haslar Bridge Haslar Lake from Haslar Bridge
Haslar Mariner from Haslar Bridge Haslar Lake from Haslar Bridge

Once across the bridge turn to the right on the footpath next to the grassy bank behind the mariner. Then go over the small wooden bridge at the end and onto the waterfront promenade at Gosport. This promenade offers stunning views over the mariner and of Portsmouth across the river. You can see the top of Portsmouth Cathedral as well as the buildings of old Portsmouth and the many boats in the harbour. Great efforts have been to improve the waterfronts of Gosport and Portsmouth and they seemed to have paid off with this lovely walkway and the impressive Spinnaker Tower across the harbour mouth.

Haslar Mariner A Britanny Ferries boat passing Haslar Bridge
Haslar Mariner A Britanny Ferries boat passes Haslar Mariner with the Spinnacker Tower behind
Haslar Mariner A pier next to Haslar Mariner
Haslar Mariner A pier next to Haslar Mariner
The skyline of Portsmouth
The skyline of Portsmouth from Gosport

Soon you come to the pier for the Gosport Ferry whilst to the left is the town centre of Gosport. The Gosport Ferry now continues the path to Portsmouth. This popular ferry crosses the river regularly, running every 7 1/2 minutes at peak times on weekdays and most of the day on Saturday and every 15 minutes for most of the rest of the day. The pleasant crossing gives good views of the dockyard and water front of Portsmouth and Gosport. The ferry drops you off at a pier right next to Portsmouth Harbour station. This is also right next to the historic dockyard where you can visit HMS Warrior, HMS Victory and the remains of The Mary Rose.

P & O Pride of Le Harve heads into dock The Spinnacker Tower nears completion
P & O Pride of Le Harve sails into the sunset The Spinnacker Towers nears completion

From Portsmouth Harbour station follow the railway viaduct then turn left to come out into the new Gunwharf Quays development where you can walk back to the waterfront. This impressive shopping centre is part of the excellent improvements that have taken place in Portsmouth over the last few years. The waterfront of the centre is now a pleasant place to relax. There are a variety of shops and restaurants on the waterfront as well as boat trips and the Spinnacker Tower is also now nearing completion. Here you can either retrace your steps to the wall by the harbour or follow the path through Gunwharf Quays back to the road.

Gunwharf Quays
Gunwharf Quays

Returning to the road (Georges Road) turn right into Gunwharf Road with the wall to your right passing by the car ferry terminal for the Isle of Wight then follow the path round the harbour of the old town, past the modern harbour side flats. This path then emerges at Broad Street in the heart of Old Portsmouth near the Cathedral and High Street. Straight ahead is a battery and by walking through it a small sheltered shingle beach with a small pier at one end. This lovely beach offers a tranquil place to watch the often frentic activity in the Solent and look back over Gosport.

A Wight Link FastCat heads past the beach to Ryde A lone fisherman on the beach
A WightLink FastCat passes the beach on it's way to Ryde A lone fisherman on the beach
Victoria Pier, The Solent and the Isle of Wight The sun sets over Gosport
Victoria Pier, The Solent and The Isle of Wight The sun sets over Gosport

Getting Back

Retrace your steps back to Portsmouth Harbour station where you'll find The Hard bus station and the rail station. From here First Provincial operate frequent buses to Fareham, Portchester and Warsash. Stagecoach Coastline also run regular buses from The Hard to Havant, Bedhampton, Cosham, Waterlooville, Petersfield, Liss, Winchester, Bishops Waltham, Fareham, Chichester, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing, Hove and Brighton.

From Portsmouth Harbour station South West Trains operate frequent services to Havant, Rowlands Castle, Petersfield, Haslemere, Guildford, Woking, London, Fareham, Eastleigh, Hedge End, Winchester and Basingstoke. Wessex Trains also operate frequent trains from Portsmouth Harbour to Cosham, Fareham, Southampton, Romsey, Salisbury, Westbury, Bath, Bristol, Newport and Cardiff. Southern operate frequent coastway services along the coast to Havant, Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton. By travelling up the line one stop to Portsmouth and Southsea you can also get trains to local stops between Portsmouth and Southampton and the local stations between Portsmouth and Haslemere.

If you're returning to Lee-on-the-Solent you can either take a train to Fareham then bus from Fareham or cross back to Gosport and take a bus from Gosport to Lee-on-the-Solent. All these services run at least hourly.

Links

The following web sites provide information on the area.


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